3.7.12

An Author's Declaration of Independence

A year ago this month, after fifteen years and a dozen books in the corporate publishing world, I founded my own digital press, Stella Link Books, to publish my backlist and forthcoming fiction. In February, live from the London Book Fair, I published First You Write: The Worst Way to Become an Almost Famous Author & the Best Advice I Got While Doing It, a mini-memoir about my journey from small press to Big Six to indie. In celebration of Stella's first birthday, First You Write is free on Kindle Thursday through Saturday, July 5-7.

Meanwhile, here's my personal Declaration of Independence, which originally appeared on Boxing the Octopus last year:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for craftspeople to dissolve the business models which have connected them with the marketplace and to assume the separate and equal station to which the Nature of Art and Nature’s Creator entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all writers are not created equal. Talent is innate and a matter of opinion. Craft skill is hard-earned and subject to interpretation. Artistic integrity is a personal choice.

That writers are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. And that among these are a Publishing Life, Creative Liberty and the pursuit of both income and Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Publishers are instituted, deriving their powers from the supply of writers and the demand of readers.

That whenever any Publishing Model becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Writers to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Publishing Model, founded on principles and distributing powers in a form most conducive to the Income of Writers and the Happiness of Readers.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Publishers long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. History hath shewn that Writers are willing to suffer, while evils are sufferable, rather than grow a pair, take responsibility for their own creative choices and champion their work in the marketplace. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations evinces a design to humiliate, disempower and pauperize them, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Publishing Model, and to take Responsibility for their future security.

The history of the present Publishing Model is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations. In every stage of these Oppressions — the inefficacy of the broken Query system, the specious calculation and inequity of Advances, the vagary and abuse of anonymous Reviews, the steady drift of commitment from Art to Celebrity — We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

I, therefore, the Representative of Myself as an Artist, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of my intentions, do solemnly publish and declare, that I am, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent.

That I am Absolved from all Allegiance to the Old School Publishing Model. That all the fear, prejudice and inertia that held me back is and ought to be totally dissolved.

That as a Free and Independent Artist, I have full Power to create my own Books, contract Alliances with other Artists, establish Commerce, and do all other Acts and Things which Independent Publishers may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, I pledge to the practice of this craft my Life, my Fortune and my sacred Honor.

Joni Rodgers (paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson)
July 2011

Download First You Write free on Kindle July 5-7, 2012 and look for the new Stella Link eBookstore--a whole new indie book-buying experience--this fall.

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